The Last Word: Golden gaffers bring sack race to finish line

Owners must stick with trusty old hands like Harry and Roy and stop searching for superstar saviours

Roy Hodgson and Harry Redknapp should be knighted. Not for their services to Fulham and Tottenham or even for their services to the anti-capitalist movement in proving money can buy you possessions but it does not mean you will necessarily then keep possession. No, the Queen should be declaring "Arise Sir Woy, Arise Sir 'Arry" very soon because of "services to Premier League managers". Thanks to this pair, the most precarious position of employment in the footballing marketplace is now one of the safest. So easy lie the heads who wear the crowns.

Of course, there are financial reasons why the Premier League sack race has this last season rivalled the Garry Cook fan club for paucity in numbers. The economic rise of the manager coincided with the economic demise of the country with such uncanny timing that it might well have been drawn up by Goldman Sachs itself. Here's how the perfect storm unfolded.

A decade or so ago, the men in the duffel coats became fed up with being dismissed so effortlessly and cheaply and sought bigger salaries and tighter contracts to make up for their lack of job security. With Rupert Murdoch handing England's elite clubs the resources to feel truly elitist, the managers still found themselves being summarily fired – but at least they could now afford to retreat to the golf courses of Spain rather than the job queues of Norwich. The living was good, even if the forgiving remained non-existent.

But then the boom went bust and with what was the Premier League left? A going rate for managers that was way too high. And a leaving rate that was even higher. With the top clubs also being forced to sign up to a binding arbitration process which would rule on contentious pay-offs, the Gaffer was more expensive to get rid of than ever. In some cases far too expensive.

Take Rafael Benitez at Liverpool. If his exit fee was £1 million instead of £10m, and if his assistants could be sent on their way with comparable peanuts, do you think he would still be in charge for today's cliff-hanger which shall determine whether Liverpool finish sixth or seventh? But maybe with a hitherto undisclosed deep understanding of football, Tom Hicks and George Gillett saw the futility of heaping all the blame on the dolt in the dugout.

The three Premier League managers who have been relieved of their duties in this campaign will be fully justified this evening in pointing at the table with one hand, while shoving the notes back into their overflowing wallet with the other, and asking the questions: "Why? What for? What exactly have you gained out of this?" When Gary Megson left Bolton he had garnered 18 points from 18 games. Owen Coyle has 18 points from 19 games. When Phil Brown was stood down at Hull they had 24 points from 29 games. Iain Dowie has five from eight. You do the maths. In a results industry these cannot be classed as progressions.

Over at Eastlands, however, Roberto Mancini is claiming "a lot of improvement" since he arrived via the back door as Mark Hughes was unceremoniously hauled out of the front with the bins. Mancini must be quantifying Manchester City's "improvement" by something other than wins, draws and losses as a move up from an average of 1.71 points a game to 1.85 points – and fifth place from sixth – hardly signifies "a lot" whatever the cut of your scarf. As far as City and their Abu Dhabi billionaires are concerned, "a lot" can only be the description of the perceived glamour he has brought. The sheikhs didn't think the grim-faced Welshman matched their ambitions. Fair enough. Yet neither so far has the flash Italian.

This is where Sir Woy and Sir 'Arry come in. Owners now have the examples, if not the excuse, to stick with the trusty old hands and ignore their "bright-new-thing" temptations. The urge to replace has never seemed so foolhardy, the rush to appoint a superstar saviour never so unnecessary. Not when you look at the achievements of Fulham and Spurs.

Granted, neither of Hodgson or Redknapp has been in their respective hot seats for any great time. But originally they were seen as stop-gap managers, there to do a job and then to make way for the genuine visionaries. Well, who's fulfilling the dreams now? They have reaffirmed that there's not some great secret to management, not some mythical key which unlocks the door to football's exclusive set. It's just good ol' footballing know-how. For Redknapp to deduce in an instant that all Spurs needed was a little balance to allow the talent to tip its scale. For Hodgson to arrange his limited resources in such an efficient manner that the barriers of class and obstacles of fatigue could be broken down.

Thanks to the golden gaffers, who made this run-in so heart-warming for neutral fans, experience and stability are becoming the buzz words. No doubt certain chief executives will continue to inflate their own egos by canoodling on the continent with the big names. But the realisation is dawning that the answer is already in the Premier League and very likely already at the club. The Martin O'Neills, the David Moyeses, the Steve Bruces, the Alex McLeishes, the Tony Pulises... all good managers and true.

The unexpected glories down the Lane and by the River merely underlines that they must be extended the time to carry on the building – and the financial implications of the panic move mean they surely will be. Yes the managerial merry-go-round appears to be grinding to its long-needed halt. Have you ever seen a merrier bunch?

Have your say

Do you agree or disagree with James Corrigan? Email your thoughts about any article in The Independent on Sunday's sport section to the editor m.padgett@independent.co.uk

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all